One of the indispensable luxuries we afford ourselves in life is pretty regular time in the hot tub. At our old house in the City we had one but tended to slip in at night, under cover of darkness, happy not to be seen and also not to be seeing much. Now, the view is so pretty and our habits are so different that we prefer to soak early in the morning. Sometimes so early the sun finds us already warm and relaxed at her ascent.
We crawl out of bed, groaning but hopefully smiling, trading kisses with tightly sealed (unbrushed) mouths. I flip down the sheets and toss away the bed pillows, letting the bed rest and air out before it gets made again later in the morning.
Our short walk down the upstairs west side hallway offers a view of the pond. Or puddle, depending on the severity of drought conditions at the time. This is great way to gauge the morning’s weather. Choppy water means wind; glassy water means a calm day. The presence of egrets or blue herons means, well, just that the birds are hungry and the fish are at the surface, I suppose. This is all extremely cryptic and requires a trained eye to interpret.
Once in a while we see a deer sipping at the edge of the water, but this happens more often in the evenings.
Assuming our still sleepy legs carry us safely down the stairs, we greet Pacino together. Then Handsome heads outside to open up the hot tub while I pour, sweeten, and make perfectly creamy two mugs of coffee. Drinking a hot, filling beverage while soaking in an equally hot body of water is sublime. It liquefies your bones.
The walk from the kitchen door to the hot tub is about thirty-eight paces. And if the chickens have been released by now, it is a journey fraught with ankle pecking and hungry clucks and flutters. Sometimes I drizzle a little coffee over chunks of bread for them, but usually I focus on reaching my handsome guy, knowing the chickens can get my attention the rest of the day.
We immerse ourselves in not only hot, bromine-scented froth but also affection and loose thinking. This is weird time of day for someone like me who dreams heavily. That gray, blurry time that must be spent diving phantoms from reality, night from day. Working on this mental task while watching the sun spread herself over the fence line is wonderful.
Handsome sits across from me, gradually waking up himself. He doesn’t dream and so doesn’t need this sifting time, but he does think. He thinks as hard as he works, which is too hard.
Steam tendrils rise and fall with the breeze, dragonflies zoom past, and roosters crow at horses. The buffalo issues a few of his deep, rib-rattling snorts. We look around the farm and can see every paddock, almost every animal from this vantage. We take an informal roll call and start discussing the day before us.
Five days out of seven Handsome is soon off to the office, of course, and sometimes he feels like telling me what he’s facing there; other times we focus more on the farm and all the many lists here, both short term and long term. He asks me, “What’s on your plate today, Sally?” Sally is not my name, so I regard this as permission to answer in any wacky fashion I see fit. “Painting elephants” is a fave response. But since I am still in that gray dreamy time, the feasibility of finding elephants that need a good touch up cannot help but present itself to my Brainstorm Help Desk. The idea always gets shot down.
The comfortable looseness we enjoy at this summit of sorts allows us to touch on a dozen or more topics in a relatively short stay. We are still deeply connected to each other as in bed, eliminating the need for much of the perfunctory conversation that litters the rest of life. We can hit the headlines in our hearts and extract from each other genuine reactions and unedited, undiluted meanings. Funny that it takes water to be undiluted.
We tend to stay longer than we can afford to, eventually finding it more difficult to drag each other out of the water than it is to drag ourselves out of bed. But once we’re towelled off the day has begun! Our thoughts are crystallized, and our bodies are up to the tasks we have chosen. I love the gift of starting my day with this man, with our ritual, with love.
The summit serves us well.